While photographing the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, I noticed a few sports writers using WordPress to “Live Blog” the tournament games. The NCAA has a long history of being heavy handed in their restrictions placed on writers, photographers and bloggers. This year, it seems more restrictive than ever, especially for the blogosphere.
On the bottom of all credentials is the NCAA Blogging policy. It reads:
Each Credential Holder (including television, Internet, new media, and print publications) has the privilege to blog (e.g., real-time or time delayed journal entries) during competition through the Credential Entity. Any blog representing an NCAA championship must submit the appropriate link to ncaasports.com Blog Central. In return, all media entities entering a blog must post the ncaasports.com logo/link on their site. All blogs must be free of charge to readers. All must adhere to the conditions and limitations of this NCAA Blogging Policy. A blog description includes in-Competition updates on score and time remaining in competition as well as description of the championship and competition taken place during the given time. The NCAA and its designated championship personnel shall be the final authority about whether a Credential Holder or Credential Entity is following the NCAA Blogging Policy. The following is the NCAA’s policy for the number of blogs allowed during a Competition or Session (i.e., where more than one contest takes place under the same admission ticket). They apply to all sports listed and are applicable to both genders.
Basketball: Five times per half; one at halftime; two times per overtime period.
The NCAA obviously views blogging as a threat to their large, multimillion dollar TV contracts which provide live game coverage. By limiting the number of posts per game and requiring blogs to post links back to their website, the NCAA effectively squashes all potential competition. This begs the obvious question: Is blogging a threat to live television game coverage? I think not.
Bloggers enhance the game by providing an alternative narrative of the game. Blogs and blog comments help to democratize the game narrative. In doing so, they also help to generate additional interest in the live televised game coverage. If bloggers generate a real and tangible threat to the NCAA’s television contracts, than perhaps bloggers should refrain from posting anything about the NCAA tournament. Little to no coverage from bloggers is a far greater threat to the vitality of sporting events than if the blogosphere were allowed to continue to blabber live, unrestricted, from the slidelines.
A couple of questions that I would love to hear some discussion about:
- Should blogging be regulated by for-profit organizations holding paid events in places funded with taxpayer dollars?
- What differentiates a widely read blogger from “journalist” working for a traditional media company?